Mitch Albom's work, particularly his novels, has never been, shall we say, a critical favorite. People who read books for a living tend to pan his slender, sentimental volumes about Love and Angels and Music, though your mom and grandma probably love them -- which explains why Albom has sold millions of books and those critics mostly haven't.
Today Albom of the Detroit Free Press expands his authoritative exploration of the afterlife, which is pretty much as you imagine it'll be -- lots of Love and Forgiveness and Albomesque prose, publishing "The Next Person You Meet in Heaven." It's a sequel to "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," Albom's first novel.
Ron Charles, The Washington Post critic, has a pan that is very funny, unlike the book:
If you haven’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil yourself, you may remember that the last time we saw Eddie, he had learned his various lessons — like Scrooge on Christmas morning — and was reunited with his dearly departed wife. But what of that little girl whom Eddie pushed from the path of a car on Freddy’s Free Fall ride? Was she saved? Was Eddie’s sacrifice in vain?
My faithful friends, your prayers have been answered. Like Milton returning to “Paradise Lost,” Albom has now produced a sequel: “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven.” Fifteen years may have passed, but as he writes, “A few seconds on earth could be a century in heaven,” a feeling re-created by reading this short book.
As the story opens, we learn that the little girl, Annie, is now a 30-year-old nurse, and today is her wedding day. But don’t bother sending a gift. Albom tells us that “love comes when you least expect it,” but here death comes when you most expect it.
Annie -- who had to be named Annie, because MITCH ALBOM, and would never be named something like Cierra or Jessamyn or Khloe -- takes a hot-air balloon ride on her wedding day, and boy, is that a terrible idea, Annie. You're a character in a Mitch Albom novel; you know what's coming next. This guy is the Jessica Fletcher of the Hallmark Channel. When he shows up, someone is checking out.
Charles' review also has a video. And it's very funny. Enjoy.